Well, their here!! Our chicks have arrived and boy do we have plenty for our first round! They are so awesome though and each one of them have a name. All 18 of them.
We started out with our first 12 that we ordered. We actually ordered 11 and then received a free exotic chick to make 12 with this bunch. We are pretty positive that our exotic chick is a Blue Cochin, but time will tell for sure. In addition, a friend was placing an order with another hatchery that carried a couple other breeds that were not available with the hatchery we ordered with, so we also ordered with them 3 more chicks to total 15. Due to extreme cold weather that was happening during these delivery times, the two orders ended up delivering on different dates intended, which made between a week and a half apart in age for the chicks but they integrated just fine with each other.
In between these two deliveries, our family also had the amazing experience to watch 5 chicks hatch that we did through incubation. We used a simple still air incubator, so for 21 days we had to keep up with the temperature, humidity, and turning the eggs at least 3 times a day ourselves. It was a really neat experience for our family. We had 6 eggs in the incubator that a friend had given us to try to hatch. We were told a 50% hatch rate would be great but most likely, it would be less. To our amazement, we ended up getting 5 chicks out of the 6 eggs! So then, we had 20 chicks! Definitely more than we planned or expected. We didn’t get rid of the last egg until after day 25 just to make sure it wasn’t a late hatch. When we opened it (outside far away from the house of course), we realized that it was just never fertilized. Knowing that made me feel better as I was hoping that a chick didn’t die within.
Sadly, 2 of our chicks did die within the first week or so, and they were from the ones that we hatched. There were no obvious causes so there is no telling for sure what happened. So far, the rest of the 18 are doing well and getting bigger and beautiful with their colorful feathers. We will find out soon whether any of the ones we hatched that are left are cockerels or not and whether the exotic one we received is too. If they are, then we have decided to try out a “No-Crow Rooster Collar” on them and see how it goes. We have been researching information about the collars, and it seems that they are safe to use and help reduce the full volume of the rooster’s crows so that urban chicken keepers, like us, can still have roosters. I’m not sure if any of the ones we have left from hatching are roosters or if the exotic one is, but if they are, we have become very fond of them, which is why we want to keep them. Additionally, they can help protect the hens.
After about 2 weeks of being in just a large rubber maid bucket, some of the chicks started trying to fly out, so we moved them outside to the big brooder that is closed in at the top. We also wanted them to transition to the outdoors where their natural environment is and they did very well transitioning outside despite the crazy weather we had. Some of our chicks (mostly the ones we got first) are getting close to moving out into the coop. Others still have a ways to go for their feathers to come in completely. I was really hoping to let them all go out at the same time, but I may have to let some of them out earlier. The ones that have more feathers are constantly trying to fly out when we open the top up and often tramples over the smaller ones. We will see how everything goes within the next week or so with the weather.
Besides the next transition of moving them into the coop, we will also have the transition of helping our dog, Precious, understand that her duty is to protect the chicks once they are out and ranging freely in the yard. She has been out there with them since they moved outside in their brooder. That was another reason I wanted to move the chicks out there so that she can get used to their presence and watch us taking care of them. I think she will do just fine with them but we will definitely monitor her very closely when it’s time.
The chicks are pretty used to my voice now, I think, as they come right up to me when I come out to see them everyday. We try to hold them or pet them often so that they are used to us when they come out and will make for more friendly chickens. Some of them are more open to physical touch than others but that’s to be expected with the different breeds.
We went out of town for a week, but for the other 2 weeks, we have spent a majority of our home education learning hands on, about the life cycle of chickens and how to care for them. Real life and hands on learning makes for the best type of learning for our family! These chicks will be loved dearly and we look forward to raising them and enjoying their delicious eggs soon! We will have more than enough for our family, so with the extras, our children will have the opportunity to start their own egg business. Again, real life and hands on learning experiences! I think it will be a great opportunity for them and look forward to seeing how they do with it.
So that is how our journey with our new chicks has been the last few weeks. I have been wanting to write about them sooner, but with the excitement that was going on in our home with them arriving and hatching and then going on vacation, it was put off until now. If you haven’t already, you can follow me on Instagram to keep up with our journey. I will post pics of them on there as they continue to grow.